Blue Ridge, Ga. – FYN received the following letter from Assistant Superintendent Robert Ensley regarding how the Fannin County School System will operate.
Dear FCSS Faculty and Staff,
To best meet the needs of our students, we are asking for the help of our faculty. All faculty and staff will have defined responsibilities so that we can continue best serving our students and their families.
- On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, everyone aside from the following categories will follow the standard protocol for a COLD event:
- All 12-month employees, directors, and principals will report at their normal times to their assigned locations.
- All nutrition staff will report; Candice Sisson will provide additional information.
- School administrators will communicate with their respective office staff members about whether they should report or engage in COLD activities.
- Teachers may report to their classrooms tomorrow, but they may not bring children into the school building. After each classroom has undergone deep cleaning, the teacher will be responsible for ensuring that the room remains sanitized if they occupy it.
- Starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020, we will begin an operation to deliver meals to students across the county. These procedures will be in place through at least Friday, March 20, 2020. We will reassess the future later this week.
- School administrators will inform classified people in their respective buildings about expectations for the days ahead. Many will be assisting with the delivery of meals.
- All teachers who are delivering direct instruction will continue delivering COLD.
- Teachers may come to the school building but they may not bring children into the school building. After each classroom has undergone deep cleaning, the teacher will be responsible for ensuring that the room remains sanitized if they occupy it.
- School administrators will inform all certified faculty who do not deliver direct instruction per COLD about their expectations for the days ahead.
- Transportation will have designated areas or routes (to be released later today) for pick-up beginning at approximately 10:30 a.m.
- In addition to designated pick-up areas food may be picked up between 11 and 1 at:
- Blue Ridge Elementary School
- East Fannin Elementary School
- West Fannin Elementary School
Reminder: All after-school activities are cancelled until further notice.
Please bear with us as we try to provide you with the most up-to date information and expectations. This is an evolving situation and we may need to change as the days progress. Please continue to WASH YOUR HANDS and practice social distancing.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – The decision to close all schools in Fannin County for the week of March 16 to March 20, 2020, was not a decision that was taken lightly. Administration and healthcare experts were present at the March Board of Education meeting to present the public with details leading up to the conclusion to close.
Dr. Dillon Miller of Blue Ridge Medical Group has been working closely with the Fannin County School System and explained the facts and myths surrounding the Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 ) and the disease Covid-19.
“We’re almost facing two challenges,” Miller said addressing the public and the board, “There’s the virus itself, of course, but then there’s the misinformation.”
Miller explained that unlike the seasonal flu that has a potential transmission rate of 1.4 people for every 1 person infected, the Coronavirus has approximately a 2.4 potential person-to-person transmission rate.
“We are almost mirroring each other as far as the number of cases, statistically similar,” Miller spoke of the challenges being faced in Italy and how examining the data can give insight into the actions that we should take in our communities. “Our Day Eight, which is where we’re at now, is almost eerily similar to their Day Eight.”
Miller pointed out that Italy waited until Day 12 to close schools, and stressed the importance of school systems to have preparedness and coordination with other agencies during this time: “We always have to think about worst case scenarios. Expect the worst and hope for the best.”
Educating the public and being proactive rather than reactive can have a significant positive impact. According to Miller, steps can be taken to “flatten the curve”, referring to slowing the impacts of the virus so that healthcare systems do not get overwhelmed.
“Fortunately from a school system perspective we are dealing with a virus that doesn’t impact children the same way it is our elderly population,” Miller spoke of the potential impact on Fannin’s children and added that the virus carries a “significant” impact for those over the age of 60. “They (children) can carry this virus and potentially give it to those that are in that high risk area.”
Dr. Dillon Miller recommended the following advice for the public and parents of children in Fannin County:
Wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
Social awareness. Try to implement the six foot rule when possible and avoid a proximity of closer than six feet to another person when out in public.
If your child is sick, do not allow them to come to school.
Avoid rushing to an Emergency Room, Doctor, or Walk-In Clinic if you or your child is not significantly ill. If a trip to the doctor is inevitable, Miller recommends calling these places ahead of time. This gives staff time to prepare to potentially stop those infected from coming into contact with those that are not.
In looking at not just the health and safety of the children but also of the community, Miller pointed out that no two school systems are the same and Fannin County would have to weigh their options on how to proceed: “There’s not a black and white answer.”
“There’s a fire alarm going off. We hear that fire alarm, we don’t know if there is a fire in here,” Miller gave an analogy of the current state of affairs and added that there aren’t enough tests to know the true impacts of the virus at this time. “Early intervention for school closures is when you get the most bang for your buck, the most success.”
“The use of data is powerful,” Fannin County Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney said before announcing the closure. “We want to do our part to flatten that curve. Fannin is going to be a part of that. We are all literally in this together, as a community, as a state, as a nation, as a world.”
Gwatney spoke of the ongoing communication that the school system has had with healthcare professionals, as well as local and state agencies. On the day leading up to the decisionto close schools Fannin County Leadership staff had a conference call with Governor Brian Kemp and a follow-up conference call with other regional districts.
“The Governor today announced and gave strong guidance for school districts and gave grace for school districts,” Gwatney stated. “We want to do our part to keep this community safe.”
The Fannin County School System will be closed to students next week (March 16 to March 20, 2020). Dr. Gwatney released a letter giving further details on how the school system will operate during this time.
“We will revisit that decision (to close) a week from now to see about the following week,” Gwatney said of the board’s decision adding, “This is a very dynamic and fluid situation and we want to stay ahead of it.”
GILMER, Ga. – An order declaring a Judicial Emergency has been released from Chief Judge Brenda Weaver was filed today in Gilmer County regarding civil and/or criminal court proceedings in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit (Gilmer, Fannin, Pickens counties).
The order states, “The nature of this emergency is the continued transmission of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 throughout the State of Georgia and the potential infection of those who are required to appear in our courts and interact with large groups due to jury service, including grand jury service, or other large, non-essential calendars.”
As for the cases slated for next week, the order states, “It is the order of the Court that jury trials are CONTINUED, and no jurors or grand jurors shall report, and no jury trials shall be held for a period of 30 days from the date of the entry of this order.”
The order charges all parties and attorneys in specially-set hearings between March 13, 2020, and April 11, 2020, to contact the assigned judge for directions.
The order provides this list of the Amended 2020 Superior Court Calendar in that same time frame:
Additionally, the order calls for attorneys and clients to report and notify each other of any sign or showing of symptoms of illness, even mild ones, prior to or after court as well as any contact or exposure to a Coronavirus positive individual. The attorneys should then contact the judge’s office if this occurs.
The order also states a list of people that “shall not enter Pickens, Gilmer, or Fannin Courthouse or any probation office Pickens, Gilmer, or Fannin Counties, without prior permission from the Chief Judge.” Those people include:
Persons who have been in any of the following countries or regions within the last 14 days:
STATE OF WASHINGTON
NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK
Persons who reside or have had close contact with someone who has been in one of the countries listed above within the last 14 days;
Persons who have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, or health agency;
Persons who have been diagnosed within, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19);
The order charges Sheriff’s offices in these counties to deny entry to those in violation of this order. It also gives guidance to those under this order’s restrictions on the steps to take. Read the full Judicial Order below:
- Fannin County Health Department
- Fannin County School System
- Fannin County Courthouse – 2 hour delay
- Fannin County Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) – will open at 10:00 a.m.
- Fannin County Public Library – will open at 11:00 a.m.
- Blue Ridge City Hall – will open at 10:00 a.m.
- Fannin County Special Olypmics – Bowling postponed to Friday, Feb. 28